Monday, March 6, 2023

Mindful Monday: Your Brain Isn't What You Think It Is

Mary Chapin Carpenter - "The Bug"  
Warning: simulated bug death.

A very rare snow coat on Wassen Peak in the Tucson Mountains. 

Sometimes I'll hear from people who are convinced we can't be living in a simulation. Much more often, people will insist that they have free will - that they are in control of their mind.

I am sympathetic to these views! Especially free will - it absolutely does feel like I am the author of my conscious narrative. 

Even if you don't buy the reductionist argument in Losing My Religions, a rigorous mindful practice will put the lie to our feeling of control, of authorship. Paying very close attention reveals that thoughts think themselves.

There is another way to see that we aren't necessarily in a non-simulated reality as well as showing us that there is no one in control:


When you wake up from a dream, spend some time analyzing it. If you're like me, many of your dreams are just bizarre.* But our consciousness just accepts the insanity as reality.


And in the dream, we just go along with whatever is served up to us (unless we've mastered lucid dreaming; I've only been able to do that a handful of times). Our consciousness just floats along within whatever absurdist play our mind puts together from random memories being moved around.

(If you still doubt, try doing some psychedelics and then just try to "free will" your way back to normalcy during the trip.)

This doesn't diminish your importance. You have the ability to have subjective experience, which, when you really think about it, seems pretty darn miraculous. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, we should revel in knowing we are a way for the universe to be aware of itself. 

*Latest dream: I was in high school (was in high school 40 years ago). I was not married (I've been married for the majority of my life). I was in class with someone I only knew in college and haven't seen in decades. The FBI had undercover agents there. I was really angry about, and kept harping on, something that just wouldn't bother me in "waking" life.

No comments: